In his second stint with Team USA, Gophers junior Max Meyer is doing everything he can to improve his game while simultaneously facing some of the world’s best competition.
“I really worked on refining my change-up because I don't throw it much during the season with Minnesota,” Meyer said. “I also worked on a two-seam [fastball], I just wanted something that fades more. I’m happy I figured out those two pitches.”
Meyer spent the last two months training and playing on the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team. He finished with a 1.00 ERA in competitive play. Team USA finished with an 8-6 record.
Gophers pitching coach Ty McDevitt has noticed the changes Meyer has tried to implement.
“He’s refined his breaking ball a lot. People were saying this past season that he had one of the best sliders in college baseball,” McDevitt said. “As good as he’s been throughout his college career, he’s always looking to get better, always trying to make adjustments and get guys out.”
The experience in Team USA baseball is different than college, and is a great deal more demanding. For Meyer, it's helped him prepare for professional ball down the line.
“It was definitely a different culture going out there,'' Meyer said. “Not being able to work out or eat like you normally do, and the time zone as well, it was definitely something I had to adjust to, and it definitely made me a better player. I know that in pro ball you have to fly around the country, so this has really helped me get ready for that and for my future.”
Meyer and his teammates traveled from North Carolina to Taiwan and then finished in Japan.
In his second summer pitching for Team USA, Meyer has thrived in his new role as leader, and is planning to take what he’s learned into next season.
“I haven’t always been a vocal guy, mostly led by example,'' Meyer said. “This summer with Team USA, our pitching coach Greg Moore kind of pushed us out of our comfort zone. He had us going in front of the group every single day and explaining drills like there were younger kids listening to us. That helped me get more comfortable speaking in front of a bunch of people, and that’s definitely something I can take into next season.”
Meyer will be taking in everything he learned from his summer with Team USA and applying it to next season as he returns as a leader for the Gophers' new players. Meyer's biggest personal goal has nothing to do with his stats; it has to do with winning.
“All I really care about next season is trying to win as many games as we can," he said. "Last season didn’t go as well as we wanted it to, so that’s the main thing I’m going to focus on. I was 5-3 last year but all I care about is winning the ball game and doing whatever I can to allow us to do that.”